Few people are eager to have others disagree with them, and even fewer people want to discuss issues with someone who is angry or hostile. Nonetheless, part of effective communication is being able to productively engage in conflict and to be able to give and receive constructive criticism.
Here are four things you can do when someone disagrees with you, your opinion, or a proposed solution.
- Evaluate if you are taking the constructive criticism personally. Many times, when a person is “criticizing our ideas,” we decide that the person is “criticizing our personhood” (Ruiz). Practice not taking criticism personally.
- Get yourself in a continuous improvement mood; that is, this feedback is information that can help you become better—better at the substance of the issue or better at interpersonal skills.
- Find something that you can agree with and express that agreement.
- Do not assume that you know what the other person thinks or feels (e.g., he/she is criticizing me and thinks I am not smart). Ruiz states, “Do not take statements personally.” Most people are not trying to attack us.